By Raiq Qureshi
LAHORE, Dec 15 (APP):An ingeniously planned octagonal structure of the tomb of Anarkali is one of the most significant buildings of Mughal era.
Circular in shape and roofed by a lofty dome, the tomb once surrounded by a garden, called Anarkali Garden, but during the last few hundred years, it has been put to several uses.
Even with all the changes, the tomb is still a monumental example of Mughal time, and adds a beauty to the overall history and importance of Lahore. The tomb of ‘Anarkali’ traditionally belongs to Nadira Begum, the lover of Prince Salim (the later Emperor Jahangir).
According to the legend, Anarkali (Pomegranate Bud) was a member of Akbar’s harem. She was accused of having love affair with Prince Salim who was executed in 1599.
When Jahangir assumed the throne six years later, he ordered the construction of her tomb which was finished in 1615.
The structure originally stood at the center of a large garden in the manner of the Asif Khan Tomb. In the early 1800s, it was occupied by Kharak Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh, which was later converted to a residence for General Ventura, a French officer in the Sikh army.
Under the British era, it was converted into Church (a protestant Church) in 1851 right after two years of British Control on Lahore. It was substantially remodeled with the arched openings largely blocked off.
According to some of the historian during the period of church, the building was covered with white paint from off white and red paint a signatory look of Mughals and Persian art and a cross sign installed at the top which was indeed the first amendment in the originality and traditional look of the artesian piece of Mughals.
Few years later, it was converted to St. James’ Church in 1857 till 1891. Since then, it has been used as Punjab Archives Museum with an amazing treasure for those interested in the history of British and Sikh Raj in Punjab.
The mystery about Anarkali’s death and her real death place is still under question mark. Many locals and some historians claim that her actual grave is in the Punjab Secretariat and many are still the followers of the same place under the present tomb.
It is said that she was assassinated but according to some facts of the history, she died a natural death.
A note from a British traveler William Finch, who visited Lahore in 1608, three years after Prince Salim ascended the throne as Emperor Jahangir. “The King (Jahangir), in token of his love, commands a sumptuous tomb to be built of stone in the midst of a four-square garden richly walled, with a gate and diverse rooms over it.”
But he failed to provide any other detail and this can be in result of his imagination.
Talking to APP, a local guide, Sayeed sahib said due to the transition of the building and controversial history facts took place during Akbar and Salim’s era faded out the actuality of Anarkali and her legacy whose results can be seen in the diverted thoughts of historians that are still unresolved.
Sayeed sahib said the locals were also not much aware to record the facts as that time was one of the most crucial and controversial times in the entire Mughal reign in the present Pakistani Punjab.
Due to the strictness of Akbar and his team, people were not even allowed to talk about Anarkali and what happened to her, as he wanted to keep her away from Mughal’s dynasty, he added.
Talking about the maintenance of the tomb, a local resident, Aslam said after the tomb was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage site number PB-68, it was well maintained and protected at the time of Musharraf’s era afterwards nothing is done by the authorities concerned.